For you, our valued members, your customers and the sectors you work in, it has been a year littered with challenges and uncertainty with little stability. The economic impact is not comparable to anything we have seen in our lifetime and will take a considerable period to rebuild.
Resilience, partnership and determination
Having spoken to many of you throughout the year, I am struck by your resilience and determination in a time that has seen more lows than highs. I am incredibly proud to be associated with the Croydon business community. Throughout all of the tough decisions, Croydon and the safety of our customers and locality have been at the heart of the choices that are being made. You are an inspiration to many in the way that you have approached this year and I know that although there are still tough decisions to be made, we can together, make it through.
I am equally as proud of the way in which Croydon BID and our team have responded to the impact of Covid-19 in leading the way to support you and your business. Representing each and every one of you, we have not just reacted to the situations as they unfold but we have considered future challenges, collectively working through solutions that add value.
In April we launched the Raise The Bar campaign to support those of you in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector who were unable to receive funding simply because rateable values exceeded £51k. Our national campaign reached every local and regional area of the country and bought with it a policy change which positively affected thousands of businesses with much needed financial support, including those in Croydon. It is our collective voice that I am most proud of.
The foundation of our resilience comes from a collective network, a partnership of voices and a business community that simply will not give up.
As we prepared to leave lockdown 1.0, our partnerships demonstrated how, through discussion, we could create and craft a town centre that could logistically move and function under social distancing guidelines.
Delivering for now and the future
We have innovated to support the town centre and your business. We launched the Croydon Champions, a team of volunteers to help with consumer confidence and reassurance. We introduced our team of Rangers to the streets of Croydon alongside our ambassadors who have played an integral part in supporting hospitality, retail and leisure while offering a visible presence to those that use the town centre.
As a business, like many others, we have redesigned our strategy to accommodate the pressures our local and regional economy is experiencing so that we can support you to not just survive but grow in the future. With the support of a new Chair in Darren Hockaday and a more representative board, we are actively working to make sure Croydon is well positioned for 2021.
What is abundantly clear is that businesses in hospitality specifically but also those in retail and leisure will need more support from the Government. On Tuesday 15th December, London moved to Tier 3. From Sunday 20th December, London moved to Tier 4, closing all non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure.
Working with you and many others, we have created and led on the national Bounce Back better campaign which has four manifesto asks including greater financial grants, business rate holiday for 2021-2022, removal of employer NI contributions for furloughed employees and extension of the VAT reduction from 20% to 5% for hospitality. Business Improvement Districts from across the country are backing our call for the Government to do more.
As we approach Christmas, it’s worth taking a moment to thank those that will continue the fight against the pandemic. Our key workers who have kept Croydon going, looking after us in our time of need and keeping us safe. We will never forget the sacrifices you have made.
To my team at Croydon BID. You have not wavered, you have not given up, you have been exactly as I expected you to be – committed to the cause. As we progress through next year, my team and I will be there for you every step of the way.
On behalf of Croydon BID, I want to wish you all Happy Christmas – together, we will come back from this.
To 2021 – we look forward to working with you, side by side.